Terriers Canceled: Was Its Excellence Too Subtle For Today’s TV Viewer?

FX will not be renewing the critically acclaimed (yet woefully undersampled) Terriers for a second season, which means we may never find out which way private-eye pals Hank and Britt turned as the season finale cut to black.

That Dec. 1 season-ender was the freshman drama’s third-most watched episode, but it delivered just 784,000 total viewers. Even more damning to Terriers’ longevity, the finale drew barely 400,000 viewers in the coveted 18-to-49 demo.

“Ultimately, we couldn’t get enough people to watch,” executive producer Shawn Ryan ( The Shield) said on Twitter Monday morning.

“I don’t think there is anybody to blame,” FX president John Landgraf said during a Monday afternoon conference call, explaining that the network had visited every possible scenario and commissioned reams of data before making the call. “We wish there was a perfect intersection between all that is good and all that is successful, but the reality is there’s a relatively poor correlation [between the two].”

What did FX learn from its research into why Terriers didn’t click as loudly with the same audience that relishes a ride with Sons Of Anarchy and eats fire with Rescue Me? “People thought that the show was compatible with FX’s brand, but dissimilar to other FX shows,” Landgraf reports. “They found it to be a little less edgy, a little less sexy, a little less suspenseful.”

“The things that were really wonderful about [Terriers] tended to be relatively subtle — [and] I don’t know if ‘subtle’ is something the American public is buying in droves today,” Landgraf said. “When I look at Jersey Shore and the Kardashians and Sons Of Anarchy and Walking Dead… I wouldn’t say that subtlety and nuance describe the most successful pop content.”

In the end, the numbers more than spoke for themselves. Terriers was pulling_ less than half the ratings of previous ill-fated FX fare such as _Dirt, The Riches, Over There and Damages. The drama was also shedding some 47 percent of its lead-in audience, then proceeding to lose 16 percent of those viewers over the course of the hour. (In comparison, Sons Of Anarchy built on its lead-in by 48 percent during its first year, and gains viewers across the hour.)

“This isn’t the first really good show that we’ve had to cancel,” Landgraf said. “And it won’t be the last.”

This story originally appeared on Movieline.com.

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3 Comments
  1. CC says:

    This is one show that I’m incredibly sad to see go. It was smart, funny, and above all else entertaining. It was nice tuning into a show that relied on the subtleties of storytelling and acting as opposed to the flash and drama of most shows now. So RIP Terriers, you will be sorely missed in my household.

  2. NOT LIKELY says:

    First, it was AMC’s thoughtful, yet provocative “Rubicon” and now “Terriers.” For the latter, at least I have that damn da-da tune in my brain forevermore. Other than music and books for my singular pleasure, my last TV fave remains “Justified.” Writers please do not screw it up and FX don’t cancel. Please.

  3. Kathi on Bob'sEmail says:

    The cancellation of Terriers exemplifies what is wrong with TV: Mainstream idiocy. I’m sick to death of talking heads who can’t speak the language dominating the airwaves. What does the viewership numbers of Jersey Shore say about us as a people? I am ashamed that we live in a country that trivializes the importance of education (think Wisconsin),and rewards ignorance.

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